The Catcher in the Rye Study Guide

The Catcher in the Rye

The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger

The Catcher in the Rye is a novel written by J.D. Salinger in 1951. It is told from the first person perspective of a young boy named Holden Caulfield, who is in a psychiatric facility after the events of the novel. Holden dislikes the world around him and his story reflects that. It explores themes such as growing up, the phoniness that comes with growing up, and alienation from peers as a means of protecting oneself.

Holden Caulfield

Holden is the protagonist and narrator of the novel. He is sixteen years old and junior at Pencey Prep, the fourth private school from which he is expelled. He is unusually tall for his age and is prematurely graying. He is intelligent and sensitive, yet bitter, cynical, and quite immature for his age.

Allie Caulfield

Allie is Holden's younger brother who died from leukemia three years ago. He also had bright red hair, an acute sensitivity, a pleasant demeanor, and was the most intelligent of the Caulfield siblings. He loved Holden immensely and often followed him around as many younger brothers are known to do.

Phoebe Caulfield

Phoebe is Holden's ten year old sister. She has red hair that she keeps short in the summers; small, pretty ears, and is Roller-skate skinny (67). Her mother keeps her impeccably dressed in suits. She is highly perceptive for her age as well as creative. She writes short detective stories and enjoys going to the theater and movies.

Jane Gallagher

Jane does not physically appear in the novel, but she is spoken of numerous times by Holden. She was his next door neighbor when he lived in Maine. She is warm and sincere, yet also troubled. She comes from a broken home with a divorced mother who is married to an alcoholic.

Mr. Antolini

Mr. Antolini is Holden's former English teacher from Elkton Hills who now teaches at New York University. He is married but manages to maintain his youthfulness and sense of humor. Holden respects him for his wit, sympathetic nature, and approachability

Sally Hayes

Sally is a young, attractive woman. A socialite in the making, she is very self-conscious and self-involved. She is committed to following the conventional path of life: school, marriage, and a family. She and Holden date occasionally whenever he's in the city.

Carl Luce

Carl Luce is Holden's former Student Advisor from the Whooton School. Holden remembers Carl for his outspokenness about his extensive sexual experience as well as for his sexual ambiguity. However, now he is more reserved and extremely private about his sex life. He attends Columbia University and is dating a sculptress from Shanghai.

D.B. Caulfield

D.B. is the oldest of the Caulfields. He is a short story writer who moved to Hollywood to write movies. He is now a successful screenwriter. He also fought in World War II, an experience that caused him to become disillusioned and unsure of his previous convictions.


Robert Ackley is Holden's neighbor in the Ossenburger Memorial Wing of their dorm. Ackley is a devote Catholic with poor social skills as well as poor hygiene. Holden perceives him to be an unattractive, intrusive misanthrope.


Stradlater is Holden's roommate and Ackley's nemesis. Unlike Ackley he is in excellent shape, very handsome, and popular with his classmates and young women. Similar to Ackley, he exhibits poor hygienic habits in that he does not keep his toiletries clean.

Mr. Spencer

Mr. Spencer is Holden's elderly history teacher at Pencey Prep. He lives with his wife across the highway from the school, though they sleep in separate bedrooms. Both he and his wife are easily amused by the simple and banal things in life. He is frustrated by Holden's apathy.

Mrs. Morrow

Mrs. Morrow is the mother of one of Holden's classmates. She is an attractive, middle aged socialite who is oblivious of her son's life at school, though she speaks of him as if she knew him well. Holden meets her on the late train to New York when he leaves Pencey.

Faith Cavendish

Faith is a woman who Holden calls for a date when he first checks into the Edmont Hotel. She is promiscuous and undiscerning though untrusting of strangers. Despite her seemingly independent attitude, she easily succumbs to flattery.


Maurice is the Edmont's elevator operator who moonlights as a pimp. Despite being streetwise, tough, and violent, he is also highly self-conscious and extremely sensitive to insults.


Sunny is the prostitute that Maurice procures for Holden. She is a no-nonsense woman who treats her profession with the utmost seriousness. Unlike Jane Gallagher, Sunny is cold and emotionally divorced from acts of intimacy.


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